Saturday, March 13, 2010

March Showers

March showers encourage April's flowers...and the emergence of hibernating amphibians.  Last spring we documented some of the interesting amphibian life that emerges each spring here and here.

Well its that time of the year again.  Actually its probably a little early, but what are we gonna do?  If its raining, the amphians are likely to emerge!

The following text was forwarded to me on 3/12/2010 by Bedford Audubon Director Jim Nordgren:
For CITIZEN SCIENTISTS interested in documenting this spring's pool-breeding amphibian migrations:

Current weather forecasts for tonight and over the weekend still are indicating conditions that may be adequate for amphibian movements, although now temperatures are expected to be a little cooler. Migrations are difficult to predict, but generally, forest-dwelling amphibians begin to move from upland habitat to spring breeding pools after the ground has thawed, on the first rainy evenings when temperatures are above 40F.
Depending on where you live in the Hudson Valley, it's possible that migrations may start tonight or over the weekend. Check your local weather forecast to help plan your evening. Curiosity, a little flexibility, and some adventurous spirit are definitely necessary for those hearty volunteers who head out despite the uncertainty and unfavorable weather conditions. Thanks to all for your help!
I’d love photographs of citizen scientists out looking for pool-breeding salamanders and wood frogs during their migrations. If you take any photos this spring that I can use in presentations and other educational materials, please email them with photo credit information, date, and brief caption information.
Some answers to recent questions:

“What if there’s still snow on the ground?”

According to “Vernal Pools: Natural History and Conservation” by Elizabeth Colburn (2004), wood frogs will breed as soon as the ice in vernal pools begins to melt, usually when there is still considerable snow on the ground. Many years ago, I saw them hopping and sliding across the ice to get to an opening in a pool in the Town of Yorktown in Westchester County.
“What time should I start looking?”

Generally, pool-breeding amphibians begin moving when it’s dark, but you may not see larger numbers until later in the evening. Most observations submitted to us last year were recorded between 9pm and 12am.
“Have there been any observations of pool-breeding amphibian movement yet?”

I’ve heard no reports from the Hudson Valley, but in south-central Connecticut, wood frogs were observed in pools and vocalizing in the shallows of a beaver pond earlier this week.
Remember, more information and data forms are available at:
Good luck and be safe! I look forward to receiving your data and hearing about your experiences in the field.

Laura T. Heady

Biodiversity Outreach Coordinator
Hudson River Estuary Program
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation / Cornell University

21 South Putt Corners Road
New Paltz, NY 12561-1620
845.256.3061 phone / 845.255.3649 fax
If you are definately interested in learning more about amphibian emergence in spring and their mass migration to vernal pools, ponds, and other water bodies follow this link to the NY DEC's website to learn how you can get involved.  Better yet, you can attend a lecture on 3/16/2010 at Bedford Audubon's Bylane Farm at 7:00pm.  Here's a little more information about that program:

Why Did the Salamander Cross the Road? With Laura Heady

Tuesday, March 16, 7:00 p.m.
BAS Headquarters, Bylane Farm, 35 Todd Road, Katonah

Have you ever witnessed large numbers of salamanders and frogs crossing the road on rainy spring nights? Ever wonder where they came from and where they’re going? Each spring, frogs and salamanders travel significant distances from their forest habitats to breed in woodland pools. Unfortunately, migration pathways often cross roads and long driveways, leading to mortality of slow-moving wildlife, even in low traffic areas.
The NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program and Cornell University are working together to conserve forests, woodland pools, and the wildlife that depend on these critical habitats. Join Laura Heady, Biodiversity Outreach Coordinator, for a slide presentation on woodland pool ecology and a new citizen science program, the “Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings” project. Learn how you can get involved by witnessing these incredible spring migrations, documenting “Big Night” road crossings, and helping amphibians survive their overland travel. For more information on the Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings see
Woodland pools and the amphibian life they sustain are of great conservation concern in the Hudson Valley.  Monitoring of these water bodies and their amazing amphibian life is a fun, educational, and critical endeavor.  I hope that you may be able to join the effort this spring!

-Adam Zorn, Naturalist


jim said...

Saw two wood frogs during Friday night's rain, at 6PM, heading from upland, across Todd Rd. by route 121 Lewisboro, to the vernal pool right across the street.

I helped those two across, but when i returned at 10pm, no more were to be seen but unfortunately about 20 had been run over.

Jim Nordgren

Westmoreland Sanctuary said...

@Jim...Too bad so many were flattened. I rescued three spotted salamanders and a spring peeper on Saturday on Chestnut Ridge Road. On Monday, I found no migrating amphibians, but discovered 1 pancaked frog (unidentifiable) and 1 dead spotted salamander :(